Jakub Berdych and Maxim Velčovský, two names well known to all design enthusiasts, set up a small studio and designshop Qubus in 2002. Since the beginning, they have specialized in fine Czech design, helping it to find its place abroad. They are cooperating with a number of designshops all over the world, presenting their own work as well as the work of other Czech talents.
Their little shop, with its lights set up to perfection to point at the exhibits on display, definitely has its charm, which is underlined by the other subject newly residing in the space. Jakub Berdych has teamed up with the brand Křehký established by Jana Zielinski and Jiří Macek (who are also, among other things, the organizers of Designblok in Prague and the annual ceremony Czech Grand Design Awards). Glass and porcelain – that is where the two brands meet common ground, making them seem to belong to each other right from the beginning. In other words, this is what we call symbiosis.
The shop in Rámová street offers a selection of the best design pieces. If you have a soft spot for porcelain or glass, you should definitely stop by at Qubus + Křehký showroom. Their slightly provocative, funny and always perfectly original objects may not be your typical grandmother’s cup of tea, but it is precisely this irony and playfulness mixed with the legacy of the much honoured tradition of Czech porcelain that makes you fall head over heels with Qubus + Křehký.
When developing DOX, the centre for contemporary art, Leoš Válka knew right away where to turn for collaboration with DOX designshop. DOX shop and bookshop by Qubus, which was opened in 2008 is under curatorial supervision of Jakub Berdych and is still the largest designshop in the country.
The shop and studio Qubus has been located at Rámová 3 since 2002. Recently, you started to collaborate with the brand Křehký. What is it that you expect from this new concept?
We had been available at this address for more than ten years before trying a concept of a shop and a gallery together with our colleagues from Denim Heads, a brand that specializes in very authentic type of clothing, especially Japanese denim. The fusion of traditional crafts seemed in tune, but Křehký is closer to what we do and the union of the two brands at one address seems logical. In addition, the two brands share some products and authors and moreover, our understanding of design, or art design if you will, is very similar. This explains why this place has such a high concentration of objects that you would not be able to find anywhere else.
The Qubus brand presents mostly your and Maxim Velčovský’s work. How do you go about cooperating with other Czech designers who contribute to this brand?
We are not an agency, that is, we don’t represent authors. We’re mainly a studio, which has its own production. The pillars of the collection are my and Maxim’s objects mainly from glass and porcelain, the traditional Czech media. However, we’re not opposed to different design, such as that of Antonín Tomášek or Milan Pekař, who are included in our collection. The objects we choose for our collection are those that go hand in hand with the idea that Qubus promotes. They should have a story behind them and overlap into other disciplines.
Qubus and Křehký both specialize in porcelain and glass design. The craft of glass has had a long tradition in the Czech Republic. Are you trying to develop the traditional manual techniques or choose to go an entirely different way?
Glass has been experiencing a period of rebirth nowadays, and it is starting to be made again and becoming more prominent as used to be the tradition in our country. I’m not really a glassmaker so I approach glass making with quite a bit of respect, but at the same time I try to change the process somehow and move it forward.
Do you consider your authorial products as applied design?
On the contrary. I won’t be chained by function when it comes to free design, they are mostly objects with no practical use.
Studio Qubus also offers services in interior design. Which architects do you collaborate with? And what is the style of your own place?
It’s not exactly our domain, but we’re not opposed to new challenges. We choose projects that are more specific and which allow us to apply our approach. And my own place? I like things from my ancestors, or those I purchase from my friends or in a bazaar. So if I had to name it, I guess the style would be termix.
You’ve also been the art director of DOX by Qubus shop in the Centre for Contemporary Art in Holešovice. Apart from this one, which other shops or galleries in Prague would you recommend to visit?
Apart from DOX, my favourite gallery is Rudolfinum, that is from the larger ones. There is a number of smaller new galleries that are of a high quality, such as Drdova Gallery and Nevan Kontempo. I wouldn’t want to leave out some other good ones, though. Some of the shops would be Praguekabinet, Kvalitář, Kurátor and many more. I don’t go shopping much so my list may not be up-to-date.
(Jakub Berdych, co-owner of Qubus + Křehký)